Wittal: Trade waiting for USDA report

Our online grain markets columnist Brian Wittal welcomes feedback and information on market conditions in your area, such as current offering prices, basis levels, trucking premiums and special crops contracts. Contact Brian today.

March 27 — It seems like the weekend was wanting to start early, as there was very little activity or news to help markets do much of anything, so markets took their cue from that and slowly drifted lower today.

Profit-taking and position-squaring by traders were the major reasons for the markets slumping today. This was the standard “step back from the markets Friday,” as everyone is waiting for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s acreage report next Tuesday, which will no doubt determine the direction for grain markets heading into spring.

The Dow Jones closed down 148 points today but is up over 500 points for the week still. The U.S. dollar finished up just over one cent today.

The Canadian dollar is down 0.46 cents and closed at US80.83 cents.

Crude oil finished down $1.96, closing at US$52.38 per barrel.

Corn finished down two to four cents per bushel, beans are down 19-27 cents per bushel and wheat is down six to 10 cents a bushel.

Canola is down $4-$5 per tonne, and barley finished down 60 cents per tonne, closing at $151.90 on the March futures and down $2.80 per tonne on the forward futures.

The drop in the Canadian dollar helped to keep canola from following beans down any further than it did.

Reactions to next Tuesday’s USDA report will be many and varied, as there are so many variables that play into these markets over the next several months.

Seeded acres are only a guess, to be challenged by anyone, and weather is the big unknown that no one can predict, so don’t be surprised if we see some rather big swings in the markets over the short term as spring approaches.

According to Reuters on Thursday, North Dakota and Minnesota were bracing for the worst flooding in years, which the news agency said could prompt farmers to cut spring wheat seedings by as much as 500,000 acres in the four main wheat-producing states.

It’s news bits like this that are going to keep markets on edge throughout the spring season.

Have a great weekend. — Brian

— Brian Wittal has spent over 27 years in the grain industry, including as an elevator manager and producer services representative for Alberta Wheat Pool, a regional sales manager for AgPro Grain and farm business representative for the Canadian Wheat Board, where he helped design some of the new pricing programs. He also operates his own company providing marketing and risk management advice for Prairie grain producers. Brian’s daily commentaries focus on how domestic and world market conditions affect you directly as grain producers.

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Brian Wittal

Brian Wittal has 30 years of grain industry experience and currently offers market planning and marketing advice to farmers through his company Pro Com Marketing Ltd.

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